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New Riders of the Purple Sage

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Album Review

Anyone who enjoyed the Grateful Dead's Workingman's Dead or American Beauty and wanted more, then or now, should get this record and follow that with the Riders' next two albums. With Jerry Garcia and Mickey Hart in tow and the Jefferson Airplane's Spencer Dryden playing what drums Hart didn't, plus Commander Cody at the piano, New Riders of the Purple Sage is some of the most spaced-out country-rock of the period. Even ignoring the big names working with John Dawson, David Nelson, and Dave Torbert, however, this is a good record, crossing swords with the Byrds, the Burrito Brothers, and even Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and holding its own; maybe a few of the cuts (especially "Henry") are predictable at times, but mostly NRPS was full of surprises (the amazingly sweet, brittle guitars, in particular) and has tunes that have held up well: "Portland Woman," "Whatcha Gonna Do," "I Don't Know You," and "Louisiana Lady," not to mention the eight leisurely paced minutes of acid country found in "Dirty Business." There are no added notes, but they'd hardly be vital — the album is an open book. [The 2003 CD reissue on Columbia/Legacy adds three bonus tracks, all recorded live at the Fillmore West on July 7, 1971, two of them covers: the Band's "The Weight" and Joe South's "Down in the Boondocks."]

Biography

Formed: 1969 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

For most of the early '70s, the New Riders of the Purple Sage™ (yes, the name is trademark-protected) were the successful offshoots of the Grateful Dead. Although they never remotely approached the success or longevity of the Dead, they attracted a considerable audience through their association with Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, and Mickey Hart, whose fans couldn't be satisfied with only the Dead's releases — the New Riders never reached much beyond that audience, but the Deadheads loved them as...
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New Riders of the Purple Sage, New Riders of the Purple Sage
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